What Are The World's Top Surfers' Travel Tips?

Pro surfers Joel Parkinson, Matt Wilkinson and more impart their words of wisdom...

Joel Parko has many a travel trick up his sleeve... Photo: Billabong
Joel Parko has many a travel trick up his sleeve… Photo: Billabong

After years of surfing the world and living out of a suitcase, pro surfers have more than a few handy tips about travelling to foreign countries and avoiding awkward scrapes along the way…

From Joel Parkinson’s tips on ordering beer abroad to Dean Morrison’s brush with customs officials after a rogue vagina appeared on his passport, there’s more than a handful of sound advice in here.

1) Insurance

Don't let this be you... Photo: LIFE Magazine
Don’t let this be you… Photo: LIFE Magazine

Yes it still happens. Surfers still sometimes think an extra €100 for travel insurance is better spent on duty free, or a night out.

Then, in the blink of an eye, you are in hospital in a foreign country, facing a medical bill that means you’ll never go on holiday again.

“On my first trip to the States, I broke my leg surfing 50 Foot Ghost Trees,” said Aussie hellman Justin “Jughead” Allport. “Luckily I was insured, the bill for helicopter and hospital came to $US350,000. If I hadn’t, I would have been bankrupt for life.”

2) Partners

“You are better off without a girlfriend if you are seriously on the road,” advises uber travel big wave expert Ian Walsh. “Don’t get me wrong, girlfriends are great, but if you are traveling it’s probably best to be flexible and free. That way no one gets hurt.”

“You are better off without a girlfriend if you are seriously on the road.”

Controversial, although being a highly paid professional surfer might make single life a little easier.

3) Boards

Nothing worse than being the right place, but with the wrong boards. Why go to all the effort but then have equipment that doesn’t do you, or the wave, justice.

“ A fish, or a quad, a high performance thruster from a shaper your trust, and a slightly bigger board with a good glass job will get you out of trouble in most parts of the world,” says Matt “Wilko” Wilkinson. “All though I usually take about six boards, so why would you listen to me?”

Kelly Slater's substantial quiver. Photo: Surfline
Kelly Slater’s substantial quiver. Photo: Surfline

“More and more you need a really versatile quiver,” says multi-talented hipster Harrison Roach.

“I’ll have a quad fin for barrels, a big old single-fin or logger for cruising in small waves and a thruster for doing airs and turns. I swear having different boards for different conditions will make your surf trip so much more fun.”

4) Drugs

There’s nothing like partying hard with hot girls and new friends in a beautiful part of the world.

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Now often drugs might come in to this fun equation. The question you will have to ask yourself is this: is the risk greater than reward? 99 per cent of the time, especially in Asia, the answer is no.

A life banged up in a stinking Asian prison, or a night on the local beers? The choice, as always, is yours.

5) First Aid Kit

“It’s the first thing I always pack, I’m slightly anal, but I love checking my first aid kit, making sure everything I need for small emergencies is in there. It gives me piece of mind.” So says Pipe Master Kieren Perrow and now ASP Commissioner.

Of course, the way he attacks ten foot closeouts at Off The Wall, it’s no wonder a first aid kit is the first thing he packs. Still, he has a point. It might just be the best £40 you spend on the entire trip.

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